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Simply The Best Natives-Wild Geranium

DSCN8140  “The ‘Amen!’ of Nature is always a flower.”   ~Oliver Wendell Holmes   

 

I have always loved the cheery flowers of hardy geraniums.  So many leaf variations and variegations with the hybrid flowers in many shades of purple and pink.  When I discovered that there was a native hardy geranium, I was intrigued.  The flowers were just as lovely as the hybrids.  So I decided to plant several in hopes of creating stands of native geraniums, and I was not disappointed this May.

Geranium maculatum or wild geranium is part of the Geranium Family (Geraniaceae).  It also goes by the name spotted geranium, cranesbill and wood geranium.  The common name cranesbill and the genus name come from the Greek word geranos which means ‘a crane’, and refers to the plant’s bill-like seed capsule. 

I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme as I profile this wonderful native plant.

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And I am also joining forces with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to purchase plants for my garden, like the one I am profiling in this post.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.

 

 

 

Growing Conditions

Wild geranium grows well under a variety of conditions in my garden from average to well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. This geranium loves moist, humusy soils, and it will naturalize in these conditions although they say it will not be aggressive.  It will also tolerate poor soils like my clay.  Deadheading is unnecessary since these plants usually do not repeat DSCN7626bloom. And be aware that the foliage may yellow in hot summers especially in dry soil so it is recommended it be lightly cut back.

G. maculatum forms a mound of deeply cut, dark green foliage that grows to 24″ tall and 18″ wide. The 5-petaled, upward facing flowers are pink to lilac, saucer-shaped and over an inch across.  The more sun the plant receives, the more it will flower.  And flowers last for at least a month in May in zones 3-9. 

I have read this plant has few pests, but do watch for aphids, slugs, and rust or leaf spot. Deer have been known to eat the flowers, seed pods and occasionally the foliage although I have not seen this in DSCN8147my garden yet, but give them time. 

Wild geraniums can be propagated by root divisions and seeds.  Seeds are ready to be collected a month after flowering is finished.  Collect the pods and put them in a paper bag, where they will burst open and release seeds to be easily collected.  Store the seeds in a sealed, refrigerated container if planting in spring.  Seeds are best sown in fall as they need to be stratified.  And rhizomes can be divided in fall or spring.  In my garden the wild geranium planted in fall flowered this year, their first year.  I am looking forward to their expansion into some lovely stands around the garden beds.

 

  

Benefits to Wildlife

This lovely flower attracts butterflies, and the seeds attract mourning doves, quail, and deer.DSCN8102
 
The petals have fine, dark-colored lines that function as nectar guides to attract honeybees, bumblebees, many native solitary bees, and syrphid flies as well as ants and beetles.
 
Wild geraniums are a good addition to shade gardens and woodland slopes.  And they tolerate browsing by rabbits and deer.
 

 

  

Where Are They Found

G. maculatum, is a woodland perennial plant native to eastern North America, from southern Manitoba andDSCN8227 southwestern Quebec south to Alabama and Georgia and west to Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota. 

In addition to filling natural dry or moist woodland openings and edges, this perennial can be found in thickets, shaded roadside areas and dappled meadows. 

This native plant is rarely found in disturbed areas.  Once the woodlands were cleared for our house, any might have been growing here were gone for good which is why I decided to bring them back.

 

  

Uses

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G. maculatum looks great planted in shady borders, native plant gardens or open woodland gardens as a ground cover. It looks wonderful planted with other natives such as bellwort, bloodroot, Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, ferns, Trillium grandiflorum, common mayapple, woodland phlox, columbine, foam flower, goat’s beard, and violets.

The plant has been used in herbal medicine as an astringent to stop bleeding.  

Please use caution when using wild plants for medicinal purposes.  It is always best to consult an expert before consuming native plants.

 

 

Folklore and Tales

Wild geranium has been used medicinally throughout history by Native Americans.  The whole plant would be boiled to make DSCN8228tea to treat diarrhea, sore throat, thrush and mouth ulcers.  

The roots were steeped in hot water to help with inflamed gums and toothaches.  

The plant’s roots were dried and the powder was applied to a wound to stop the bleeding. 

 

 

Do you grow native or hybrid hardy geraniums?  Do you have a favorite hardy geranium you grow in your garden?

 

 

 

Visit my new blog this Thursday: 

new blog logo

This is the badge I have developed for my new blog, Living From Happiness.  I am excited to start this new blog as I write about life, lessons, change and the challenges I am experiencing as I continue on my new path since retiring.

 Right now I have a welcome message to greet you, and you can sign up for a subscription through WordPress, email, Bloglovin or Feedly.  I do hope you will join me there.  I do understand that this type of personal blog about life may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are so inclined I would be happy to see you there.

 The inaugural post will be tomorrow, and then I will post every Thursday.

 

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Check out other posts in the series, Simply The Best Natives:

June-Ostrich Fern

May-Bloodroot

April-Echinacea

March-Northern Sea Oats

February-Common Boneset

January-Pearly Everlasting

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Next up on the blog:  Next week brings another Garden Book Review.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.  You can see my latest post now.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

 All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.